Weapons of Mass Distraction

Keeping motivated and alert can sometimes be difficult late on a Friday afternoon. The weekend is just out of reach, the office feels unusually stuffy, and you find yourself side-tracked by amusing animal videos while scrolling through Facebook.

Maybe you’ve even been distracted from a conversation or writing an email by this blog. I don’t blame you. Everyone knows that loss adjusting blogs are the most entertaining! Well, it’s time to stop watching adorable puppies falling asleep in their food bowls (aww!!). Inc. has gathered some of the most useful tips to eliminate distractions in the workplace.

Distractions

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Create a sanctuary

Having your own space, free from noise, distractions and even your phone, can lead to the best kind of creative thinking. In a solitary space, it’s easier to get in the zone and complete the project you’re working on. Think J.K. Rowling, who isolated herself in a suite adjacent to a castle while writing the seventh Harry Potter book. Where’s your castle?

Plan your hours

Allow yourself a set time during the day, maybe thirty minutes, to check social media and email. Then switch off any notifications. By not allowing yourself to get distracted in the first place, your performance will greatly increase. Not even by cat videos.

Log your good work

Keep a tally of your focused, undistracted working hours. Apparently, it’s a good way to confront reality, something that I generally try to avoid. Sometimes you think you’re working undistracted, when in actual fact you’ve forgotten about that Buzzfeed quiz you did that tells you what kind of potato you would be.

So next time you catch yourself slipping away to the world of Twitter or Instagram, try and remember one of these helpful tips. It might just save you time in the long run.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Sleep Thought

It’s something that we do every night – sometimes without trying, and sometimes after a long struggle. Sleep is something that we all need, but often don’t get enough of. And it’s having an impact on our workplaces. Lack of sleep is considered one of the greatest contributors to lost working hours in Australia.

Add on to that the high rate of sleep disorders, such as sleep apnoea and insomnia, and we’re looking at a serious problem.

It can be frustrating trying to get some Z’s, and it’s easy to slip into what’s known as the ‘worry cycle’. Lying there, wide awake in the dark, you become hyperaware of your inability to sleep. This creates a feeling of anxiety that you won’t get to sleep. Rinse and repeat. It’s a vicious cycle. Luckily, inc. has some suggestions for those who become overwhelmed with life decisions and mental challenges right before bedtime.

sleep

Image: Hernan Sanchez on Unsplash

Avoid Blue Light

Exposure to blue light from electronics and mobile phones can have a severe impact on your REM cycle and make it a lot harder to fall asleep. Try and avoid using your phone before bed.

Avoid Caffeine

Caffeine, in the form of coffee, tea or energy drinks, can impact your ability to fall asleep. You should try and stop drinking caffeinated drinks around 3 – 4 hours before bed.

Create Routine

This one may seem too good to be true – but our bodies love routine. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and importantly, wake up at the same time each morning. This can make a huge difference within weeks.

These small changes could drastically reduce the chances of you falling asleep at your desk. More sleep means more productivity and focus in the workplace and a healthier and happier you.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Ladder to Success

When Men Without Hats released their song ‘Safety Dance’ in 1982, I can imagine that a shudder of horror ran through everyone involved in the construction industry. How many times had it be emphasised through occupational health and safety regulations that we need to wear hard hats on a construction site. The so called ‘safety dance’ was undoing decades of hard work. Won’t somebody please think of the children!

Thankfully, all was not lost. Today, safety in the workplace is one of the most talked about issues in the construction industry. It’s especially common around this time of year. That’s because it’s one of our favourite weeks – Safety Week! Even though it’s mainly observed in the US, it’s something that we feel is a great starter for conversation about safety procedures in our Australian workplaces. As a loss adjusting company specialising in claims relating to construction and engineering, we have to tick all the safety boxes while visiting a site or investigating a claim. This includes wearing appropriate clothing and footwear and following all safety procedures on the site.

construction

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On behalf of Safety Week, Zurich Insurance has put together some information on one particular workplace danger – ladders. Here’s what you need to know:

Ladder Safety

  • According to OSHA, in the past ten years statistics show a 50% increase in ladder-related injuries*
  • Incidents commonly occur as a result of climbing the ladder with tools, or working from an unstable position on the ladder.
  • You shouldn’t climb a ladder if you feel dizzy or tired.
  • You should always wear clean, slip-resistant shoes while climbing a ladder.

Of course, these are just the basics for ladder safety. There’s plenty more detailed information available on the Zurich Insurance website. One rung at a time and you’ll be climbing the ladder to success.

*OSHA US DOL statements 2016

Words by Skye Jamieson

FT Absence

There’s a curious sound in the FT Adjusting office this morning – and that’s the sound of silence. The office is strangely empty.  There’s been no loud phone conversations and hardly anyone has been coming in and out of the office. The musical duo Simon & Garfunkel certainly knew a thing or two about this peculiar phenomenon. In 1964 they released their hit ‘The Sound of Silence’ (1964! Let that sink in for a moment).

So way back in the Stone Age, Simon & Garfunkel departed this eternal piece of musical wisdom upon us: ‘Hello darkness my old friend/ I’ve come to talk with you again.’ There’s been endless analysis on the deeper meanings behind the song, but for today’s blog purposes it’s being used to capture the disconcerting feelings and the hollow echo of silence in our office. Just go with me here.

silence

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It just so happens that a few of our staff, including our glorious leader Ian, are away on leave. Where are the others, you ask? Well they’re out doing what every good loss adjuster does – visiting sites and communicating directly with insurers and the insured in the field. According to our Cadet Loss Adjuster Shay, the amount of time you spend on site really depends on the type of claim. For most contract works, you can expect to be on site anywhere from thirty to forty-five minutes. For more complex situations, a site visit could take up to an hour or more. And handling multiple claims at a time can mean multiple site visits.

Unfortunately, that leaves a rather empty office headquarters around here today. There’s hardly any keyboard tapping, boiling kettles or banter between desks. Things will most likely be back to normal after the Anzac Day public holiday – it’ll return to a full house! But for now, I can really see eye to eye with the lyric: ‘But my words like silent raindrops fell/ And echoed in the wells of silence,’ – and what I wouldn’t give for some friendly office banter right now to fill that silence.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Efficiency Advice

The theme of the week here at the FT Adjusting office is efficiency, and as we all know, it only takes one appealing email link or extended tea break (did someone say Tim Tams?) to completely derail productivity levels for the day. So, after seeking out sources in the office and a bit of running around, I managed to score a few red hot efficiency tips from some of our elusive staff.

FT Adjusting’s Hot Tips for Efficiency in the Office

 

Shay uses sticky notes around his computer to stay on top of urgent tasks. He listens to empowering and brain stimulating music to keep his mind focussed, and believes drinking a lot of water is important. Geoffrey’s number one tip for efficiency in the office is to utilise his filing tray by prioritising files from most urgent to least urgent. He says the highest priority files are the ones on his desk!

Desk

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Simon uses a whiteboard in his office to create To-Do lists, organise his time and schedule appointments in order to effectively give an individual his undivided attention. Zack harnesses the concentrated power of metal music (while wearing headphones!) to “get in the zone” and block out distractions in the office.

Lesley, our office manager, is a big believer in writing lists and using sticky notes in order to complete tasks efficiently. In terms of minimising errors, she always checks once, checks twice, and checks again.

Ian, our Director, begins each day by mediating, as he has done for the past twenty years, in order to become focussed. Ian’s hot tip is to first complete the tasks you don’t want to do, which then leaves time to focus on other tasks.

So there you have it! As you can see, the team here at FT Adjusting are an efficient lot. And in the complex world of loss adjusting, efficiency and productivity are most definitely essential skills.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Water Cooler Conversation

It’s only my second day in the office here at FT Adjusting and I’ve already developed a slight attachment to the water cooler in the corner of the office. Like the animals in the African savanna, us office-dwellers have long been drawn to the nearest water source for refreshment, particularly when the air conditioning has been overworked in the heat of the Aussie summer.

Elephants

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For many years conversation around the water cooler was the perfect opportunity to ponder life’s unanswerable questions (like why on earth did Apple remove the headphone jack?) but with the rise of social media the office bulletin boards have been reduced to measly 140 character tweets.

And with the rise in social media use in the office, reports Insurance Business, comes a higher risk of cyber breaches in the workplace. Insurance Business believes that human error is one of the most common causes of cyber breaches. Yikes.

With mandatory breach notifications recently passing through Parliament, Lennon* noted that he expects to see the cyber insurance market continue its growth over the course of 2017 as businesses learn that cyber risk is an issue that reaches far beyond the IT department.

With this prediction we can expect to see even more ridiculously complicated password requirements. So stay hydrated, folks, maybe the water cooler isn’t so old school after all.

*Nick Lennon, country manager at cyber security firm Mimecast.

Words by Skye Jamieson

Vacancy: Social Media Manager

Are you a busy university student? A social media maven? A lover of monthly pizza parties? If you mentally ticked all three boxes, then FT Adjusting would love to hear from you!

Our company

FTA is a loss adjusting firm based in Epping, a few minutes from the station. Our small team draws on their diverse skills and experience to investigate and report on insurance claims. Construction and engineering is our forte; we have ‘niche-pertise’, and we’re proud of it!

The position

As Social Media Manager, your job is to produce content for FTA’s online platforms. You will write blog posts, run our Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, and create and edit any marketing or promotional material the company needs. From time to time you may be asked to provide admin support (i.e. answer phones). If you take to our (very simple) office procedures, you might inherit additional responsibilities under the tutelage of our lovely office manager!

Social media

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You

It’s ESSENTIAL that you:

  • are a journalism or media student (related disciplines also welcome)
  • can independently manage your own time and decisions
  • have exceptional research and writing skills
  • have plenty of creativity and a sense of humour
  • have an eye for detail and an open mind
  • can take initiative and learn on the fly

It’s a BONUS if you:

  • can use WordPress, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • have some editorial, graphic design or admin experience

In return you’ll get:

  • a small, dedicated and friendly group of colleagues
  • flexible hours (equivalent of one eight-hour day a week)
  • your own office in an easily accessible building
  • valuable writing and social media experience

Interested?

To apply, please email Jenny Ryan (Social Media Manager) at jennyr@ftadjusting.com.au with your:

  • resume
  • cover letter
  • best piece of writing (any kind!)

Applications close 12 February 2017. We look forward to reading yours soon!

It Takes Two

You may remember that back in November Zack gave us his thoughts on the challenges of being a new loss adjuster. He noted that there isn’t much new talent coming to the field. And it seems that this problem isn’t isolated to loss adjusting: the insurance industry at large is struggling to find new recruits.

Insurance Business Online wants to answer the question: how do you attract new talent this year? They’ve got two helpful suggestions for us all.

  1. Invest in the future
  2. Sell the soft benefits
Girl thinking at desk

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The first idea is simple: want someone to contribute to your future? Invest in theirs. Many jobseekers want training and development opportunities. If insurance companies offer those to prospective candidates, then those potential employees may see a clearer future in the industry.

It’s also not a bad idea to spruik things like a good work-life balance. These type of lifestyle benefits are increasingly popular and encourage employee retention. It’s always good to know that your workplace cares about you.

Meeting of young people

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Ultimately, these two ideas suggest that new talent are attracted to supportive and flexible employers. It’s a give and take situation: if they’re going to give their time and effort to a company, what can they get in return?

Nobody’s saying that just throwing benefits at candidates is the right way to attract them. But maybe it’s worth thinking about what each party can offer the other when it comes to getting the next generation on board.

Words by Jenny Ryan

Happy New YOU!

In the immortal words of Marshall Bruce Mathers III, AKA Eminem: ‘guess who’s back, back again’!

It’s finally 2017 and the FT Adjusting team is still emerging, bleary-eyed, from our holiday. But work doesn’t stop just because we do. So here we are, back in action (well… almost) for a new year! Since this is a fairly sleepy first week back, let’s not overexert ourselves. All that insurance-y stuff can wait. Today, let’s focus on getting back in the working mindset.

Smile note

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This article from Inc. may be a little old, but it’s still good value as far as being a happy employee goes. It identifies five things you can do to make work more enjoyable:

  1. Set some challenging goals
  2. Learn some new tricks
  3. Socialise with different people
  4. Adopt the 80-20 principle
  5. Explore opportunities
Meeting

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There’s nothing like leaving your comfort zone to make work interesting, especially if you were stuck in a rut before Christmas. Your new goals, tricks and comrades may or may not directly relate to your job: the important thing is that you expand your horizons and think outside the box, both of which will benefit you at work.

The 80-20 principle posits that while 80% of your job should consist of tasks you enjoy doing, 20% will consist of those you don’t. The key is to accept this and not be overcome by it. Tackle that 20% first, bit by bit, and then you can embrace the 80%. Those tasks will be easier to finish since you won’t be fighting against yourself!

Woman working and drinking coffee

Image: pixabay.com

And of course, take the time to chase opportunities, even if they don’t exist yet! A person can still dream, and unconstrained imagination can help you realise what you do and don’t want for your future. There’s no harm in a bit of daydreaming if it gets you fired up to get stuff done.

So go: try a new productivity hack, invite a co-worker to coffee, or start chipping away at those less-than-desirable tasks. You’ll feel much better for it, and you’ll work much better, too! Happy 2017!

Words by Jenny Ryan

Tackling 2017

We made it! FT Adjusting (as you may have seen) is shutting up shop tomorrow afternoon. The loss adjusters will be hitting the road after lunch to enjoy some well-deserved R&R. All too soon it will be Christmas, and then New Year’s Eve; then the FT team will be back at their desks for another year of hard, hard work.

Last week we spoke about productivity, and today we’re expanding on that by tackling those post-holiday blues. It’s almost inevitable that, after a year like 2016, returning to work in 2017 will be a bit of an uphill battle. But there are some steps we can take to make the transition as painless as possible. Things like these!

1. Balancing

Quiet at work? Afford a little more work/life balance. Busy as heck? Reign it in. Try going with the flow in situations like these.

2. Learning

Why put off professional development until a later and busier period? Sleepy January and February are the perfect times to brush up your skills.

Coffee drinker

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3. Housekeeping

If you’ve been delaying your odd jobs – admin, marketing, policies – the post-holiday period is a good time to tick them off your list.

4. Communicating

Having a bit of extra time on your hands could be just what you need to squeeze in some much-needed meetings and boost some morale.

5. Being proactive

Make sure you have something to ‘look forward to’ when you come back from your holiday. It beats twiddling your thumbs throughout January!

Stopwatch

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6. Setting deadlines

While you’re setting yourself some goals, why not also set a time limit? Be flexible, of course, but also incentivise that hard work.

7. Staying away!

Nobody likes unfinished work, but don’t drag yourself back to it too soon. There’s nothing worse than needing another holiday immediately after returning from one.

In an ideal world, we’d all return to work in 2017 feeling refreshed, energised and ready to take on the world! In reality, though, we’ll probably eat way too much and end up navigating the office in mobility scooters. But at least we can do so knowing that, at least for the first few weeks of 2017, we’ve got a plan to get things done!

Words by Jenny Ryan